Hot chile nuts — crunchy, sweet and fiery

Forget those airplane nuts and try these, booming with a homemade chile powder and smoothed over with honey

Topics: Civil rights movement, Kitchen Challenge, Food,

Hot chile nuts -- crunchy, sweet and fiery

To read Paul’s story on his inspiration for these nuts, a chance meeting with Rebecca Clark, civil rights hero and mother to a bawdy soul singer, click here.

Chile Powder

Makes about ½ cup

We’ll get started by making some chile powder. It’s not really necessary, but the powder you make will be better than the stuff you buy. These dried ancho, arbol and pequin peppers are easy to find in the Hispanic aisle of your local Piggly Wiggly. You might have to order the cascabels and chipotles. Or substitute other peppers. You can make your powder as spicy or mild as you like, or alternatively, you can just jazz up the powder you buy with some additional peppers.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 ancho chiles
  • 1-2 cascabel chiles
  • 1-2 chipotle chiles
  • 2 arbol chiles
  • 1 teaspoon pequin chile
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

Directions

  1. Cut peppers open with scissors, remove the seeds, then cut up into small strips.
  2. Roast the chiles in a cast iron pan over medium high heat. I suggest using ventilation when you do this. Roasting accomplishes two things: It releases the aromatic oils from the cells and dries out the pepper so it will powder easily.
  3. Set the peppers aside to cool when they finish roasting — about 3-5 minutes or when you start coughing as you stir them. Next, roast the cumin and coriander until the cumin seeds start popping, about 30 seconds to 1 minute if you used the same pan.
  4. Let everything cool for about 15 minutes and pulse all the ingredients in a blender to get them down to size.
  5. Finally, use a spice grinder, working in batches, to completely pulverize. It’s a very good idea to let the dust settle after each round of processing so you don’t breathe any in. That really smarts. It will keep at least six months in a lidded jar.

Hot Nuts

Ingredients

  • 1 16-ounce jar of dry-roasted peanuts
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons chile powder
  • salt, to taste


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F
  2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and transfer to a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake, taking them out to mix ‘em up a bit every 10 minutes, for a total of 40 minutes, or until the nuts are dry, reasonably separate, crisp and fragrant.
  3. Let cool. After they cool, they’ll be sweet with a hint of lime and subtle heat. Most important, they’ll be crunchy — much better than the hot nuts you get from the peanut man or flight attendant, a finger food that won’t muck up either your fingers or your boarding pass.

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